Shabbat Vayigash – In control of our desires…

וַיֶּאְסֹ֤ר יוֹסֵף֙ מֶרְכַּבְתּ֔וֹ וַיַּ֛עַל לִקְרַֽאת־יִשְׂרָאֵ֥ל אָבִ֖יו גֹּ֑שְׁנָה וַיֵּרָ֣א אֵלָ֗יו וַיִּפֹּל֙ עַל־צַוָּארָ֔יו וַיֵּ֥בְךְּ עַל־צַוָּארָ֖יו עֽוֹד׃

(Bereshit 46, 29) And Yosef harnessed his chariot, and he went up to meet his father, to Goshen, and he appeared to him, and he fell on his neck, and he wept on his neck for a long time.

Rashi explains that the crying was only one sided. Yaakov did not cry at this most moving meeting. In fact, he was saying Kriat Shema.

Now, we know Yaakov had a very close relationship with Yosef, and (all commentators) wonder how it could be that he had little emotion as he meets his most beloved son after so many years. Was it not possible to say Kriat Shema a few minutes earlier or later? 

One of the important tasks of our lives is to be שולט על מידותנו, to be in control of our desires. This is a lifelong task which – we all know, has its ups and downs…

Yaakov Avinu was testing the ultimate and highest level of this task; would he be able to concentrate in Kriat Shema, even in this moment in time, at which – obviously – his thoughts and emotions of love to his new found son, were at their highest. 

Rabbi Chaim Michael Biberfeld